We understand that "we must forgive our enemies", even if it is not easy, and also " pray for others", for "those who give us a hard time.” However, “praying for those who want to destroy me, having God bless them, that is really hard." Yet many “Christians sent to Siberia" or “Auschwitz have done so.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis exhorted Christians to ask God for the grace to love their enemies, citing the Gospel of Mark (5:43-48), in which Jesus tells his disciples to "love your enemies and pray for your persecutors ".
“We understand,” the pontiff said, that "we must forgive our enemies. We say this every day in the Our Father. We ask for forgiveness as we forgive: it is a condition" that is not easy. The same is true with respect to "praying for others who test us. This too is hard, but we do it. Or at least, we have been able to do it many times.”
“To pray for those who want to destroy me, my enemies, so that God may bless them: This is truly difficult to understand. Let us remember events of the last century, the poor Russian Christians who, simply for being Christians, were sent to Siberia to die of cold. Should they have prayed for their murderous rulers who sent them there? How can that be? Yet many did so: they prayed. Think of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Should they have prayed for the dictator who sought a ‘pure race’ and killed without scruple, praying even that God should bless him? And yet many did so.”
Jesus’s “difficult logic”, which, in the Gospel, is contained in his prayer for those who put him to death on the Cross: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Jesus asks God to forgive them, as did Saint Stephen, when he was martyred.
“But what distance, an infinite distance between us – we who frequently refuse to forgive even small things – and what the Lord asks of us, which he has exemplified for us: To forgive those who seek to destroy us. It is often very difficult within families, sometimes, for spouses to forgive one another after an argument, or to forgive their mother-in-law. For the son it is hard to ask the father for his forgiveness. To forgive those who are killing us, who want to do away with us. . . . Not only forgive, but even pray that God may watch over them! Even more, to love them. Only Jesus’ word can explain this. I cannot go any further.”
Hence, we must ask for the grace that allows us “to understand this Christian mystery and be perfect like the Father, who gives good things to the good and the bad.”
“It would do us well, today, to think of our enemy – I think all of us have one – someone who has hurt us or wants to hurt us. The Mafia’s prayer is: ‘You’ll pay me back.’ The Christian prayer is: ‘Lord, give them your blessing, and teach me to love them.’ Let us think of one enemy and pray for them. May the Lord give us the grace to love them!”